Gardening / Amazing plant with the ‘wow’ factor

A “wow” plant… Viburnum plicatum “Mariesii”.

“WOW” is the only way to describe the amazing Viburnum plicatum “Mariesii”.

Cedric Bryant.

Named after the famous UK gardener Charles Maries (1851-1902), its distinctive, layered horizontal branches of white flowers appear as if covered in snow.

Its outstanding autumn leaf display is followed by red berries that provide winter feed for birds.

One of a genus of more than 200 varieties, both evergreen and deciduous, the deciduous varieties, which mostly come from China and Japan, are the best for flowers and the evergreens come from Malaysia to South America.

ANOTHER example of the deciduous varieties is Viburnum opulus, commonly called the snowball bush due to its round, pom-pom-like, white flowers.

Flowering in late winter/spring it was a favourite in almost every garden in the older suburbs, but of late it’s out of fashion (as are most viburnums) due to the shrinking size of the modern block. However, it you have a garden in an older suburb with a Viburnum opulus, it’s worth keeping. If it looks neglected, prune back hard and you will be rewarded not only with flowers but an autumn display of reddish-purple leaves, which are followed by bright, red berries that stay on the shrub most of winter.

For fragrance… Viburnum burkwoodii.

I have to mention Viburnum burkwoodii and Viburnum carlesii with the stunning fragrance of their pink-budded, white flowers. Actually, V. burkwoodii is a cross between V. carlesii and V. utile, providing the best of both worlds.

VIBURNUM laurustinus, commonly abbreviated to V. tinus, is one of a large family of evergreen viburnums and is best known as a hedging plant.

It is preferable to Photinia robusta, which as the name suggests is very robust with rapidly growing, thick stems making it difficult for the home gardener to keep in shape. V. tinus has a mass of white-tinged, pink flowers in winter and the best time to prune it is after flowering in early to mid-spring.

With larger, glossy leaves is Viburnum japonicum, which is useful as a tall hedge due, like Photinia robusta, to its vigorous growth.

I AM often asked what plant I ever regretted putting in and the answer may surprise many. It’s Triteleia, or Star of Bethlehem, that pretty bulb with the sky-blue flowers. A great ground cover in spring, it smothers everything in its path, overwhelming other small bulbs and carpet thyme. It has taken me at least three years of assiduous digging to get out every bulb.

Unless it’s in a larger garden with no other plants nearby, getting rid of it may involve glyphosate. I suggest this reluctantly or, preferably, the organic Slasher herbicide.

ANOTHER plant that I feel should be on the environmental weeds list is Solanum jasminoides or the potato vine. It belongs to the same family as deadly nightshade, potatoes and tomatoes.

It sends out long unruly tendrils, its white flowers smell of nothing and the leaves are a dull grey-green. There’s nothing to inspire anyone to grow it. Worse still when it turns up through the fence from next door!


  • A wide range of perennial plants are arriving at garden centres, many just coming into flower for spring and summer, a perfect time for planting.
  • It’s not too late to dig up and divide perennials to fill vacant spots in the garden.
  • Dahlias left in the ground over winter can be dug and divided now before new growth starts.
  • It’s imperative to start mulching now before the heat of summer. Canberra Sand and Gravel’s Canberra Organic Mulch is a good choice.

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